Crushed Lentils with Tahini and Cumin

An easy to throw together light meal or appetizer with pita bread and boiled eggs

Crushed Lentils with Tahini and Cumin ~ if you love hummus, try this healthy Middle Eastern lentil appetizer from Yotam Ottolenghi! It’s a warm dip that’s hearty, satisfying, and so delicious.

An appetizer or light vegetarian meal with fresh pita

This is my second attempt from YotamOttolenghi’s PLENTY MORE, his new collection of vegetarian recipes and my current cookbook obsession. This is a comforting appetizer, or really even a light meal, which is how I ate it, and it is soooooo good. As I was scarfing it down with my freshly made pita bread I tried to pinpoint exactly what was so pleasing about it so I could report back to you, but after a few bites I lost the battle. Words, thoughts, table manners… they didn’t stand a chance against the warm plate in front of me.

You’ll  just have to trust me on this one…it’s a little like hummus, but it’s chunkier and has more depth of flavor…there is not one element I would remove from the mix; the Puy lentils are soft yet retain their shape, the tomatoes, cumin and cilantro give a background bite, the tahini is so luscious and creamy, the raw red onions give you a sweet sharp crunch, and I know I don’t need to tell you about eggs cooked just to the point  where the yolk is solid. You need it all, and it’s all just perfect.

An easy to throw together light meal or appetizer with pita bread and boiled eggs

It occurred to me, too, that this dish is a rare example of a comfort food that is actually healthy. It covers all the bases without meat, fat, or empty calories. The eggs and the pita really make it a complete meal, so if you’re in the mood to try something non-traditional for dinner, or if you’re trying to cut back on meat, this is a goodie. It comes together in under an hour, with hardly any effort.

Crushed Lentils from Plenty More

To go with your crushed lentils with tahini and cumin, try my Homemade Pita Bread, or my Homemade Laffa Bread, both authentic Middle Eastern flatbreads that are easy to make.


Reader Rave ~

“This is a go-to for a meatless entree in my house. I think it’s traditionally a side dish but we make pitas, from your recipe, and make them sort of like tacos. Even my kids eat this and my husband enjoys it as well which is saying a lot for a meat eater! Love this recipe.”  ~ Brittany

4.27 from 15 votes

Crushed Lentils with Tahini and Cumin

Crushed Lentils with Tahini and Cumin ~ if you love hummus, you might want to try this warm lentil appetizer from Yotam Ottolenghi ~ this Middle Eastern dip has lots of flavor and texture!
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Calories 279.35kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 1 cup small green Puy lentils look for the smaller ones, sometimes called French lentils, not the regular ones
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • scant 2 cups finely diced tomatoes
  • a full cup of cilantro leaves or as many as you can muster
  • 1/4 cup tahini paste
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice I used one lemon
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/3 small red onion sliced very thinly
  • 4 eggs hard boiled


  • hot smoked paprika regular paprika, or sumac
  • a good drizzle of olive oil


  • Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the lentils. Turn down the heat a bit and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the lentil are just cooked. The small Puy lentils don't get mushy like regular brown lentils do. Drain the lentils and set aside.
  • In a large skillet melt the butter and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and cumin to the pan and stir for about a minute.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan, along with about half of the cilantro, and the lentils. Stir to combine, and let it cook for a minute.
  • Stir in the tahini, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of salt and lots of fresh ground pepper. Let cook gently, for about 5 minutes.
  • Note: Ottolenghi adds a little water to the pan, I didn't need it. He also says to mash the lentils with a potato masher at this point. I didn't do that, I preferred the texture of the soft but whole lentils. It's your call.
  • Serve the lentils hot, sprinkled with the sliced onion and the rest of the cilantro, along with the cooked eggs. Drizzle with olive oil and dust with paprika. Eat with pita bread.

Cook's notes

recipe (with minor changes) from Plenty More


Calories: 279.35kcal | Carbohydrates: 21.93g | Protein: 12.18g | Fat: 17.08g | Saturated Fat: 4.79g | Sodium: 384.87mg | Fiber: 5.37g | Sugar: 3.01g
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.


  • Ottolenghi calls it crushed lentils, but I didn’t really crush them, the cooking renders them soft and I didn’t feel the need to mash them further. If you are going to serve this as an appetizer you might want to crush them a bit so they are easier to scoop up with bread.



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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    February 16, 2019 at 4:16 am

    Have you doubled this recipe?

    • Reply
      February 16, 2019 at 8:37 am

      I haven’t done that Lynn, but as I recall it makes quite a bit. I don’t see any reason you couldn’t double it, though.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    This is a go to for a meatless entree in my house. I think it’s traditionally a side dish but we make pitas , from your recipe, and make them sort of like tacos. Even my kids eat this and my husband enjoys it as well which is saying a lot for a meat eater! Love this recipe.

    • Reply
      December 5, 2018 at 4:04 pm

      I can vividly remember how much my husband and I loved this one too Brittany, thanks for your nice feedback!

  • Reply
    September 24, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Made this for dinner and it was delicious. Thanks for sharing .

    • Reply
      September 24, 2017 at 9:19 am

      Great to hear that Shaheen ~ I remember how much my husband and I loved it when I first made it. I like the idea of making dinner out of it, too, thanks!

  • Reply
    February 1, 2016 at 5:10 am

    I got this cookbook for Christmas and just love it and all the recipes in it.

    • Reply
      February 1, 2016 at 7:14 am

      I have all of them, I think now, and they are treasure troves, Margaret. He’s amazing.

  • Reply
    January 9, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    looks really good! love this middle eastern inspired dish!

    • Reply
      January 10, 2016 at 8:38 am

      Thanks Farida – we all loved it too!

  • Reply
    July 8, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Made this tonight and it was delicious! We ate it as a light meal, I was looking forward to left overs for tomorrows lunch, but there wasn’t any! 🙁 Next time, I’ll double it! 🙂

  • Reply
    fungi foodie
    February 9, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Beautiful pictures. I’ve made this recipe too and it’s sooo good!

    • Reply
      February 9, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      Never made anything of his I didn’t fall in love with!

  • Reply
    Ashley Talebi
    January 24, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    I’m half persian and these look like they have a wonderful middle eastern flare. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      January 24, 2015 at 6:24 pm

      I think you’ll love these, Ashley, have you read any of Ottolenghi’s books?

  • Reply
    Victoria {Scissors & Sage}
    November 16, 2014 at 6:52 am

    I have admired your blog for some time, and am always so impressed. Your recipes look equal parts delicious and attainable. I can’t wait to try this one with your homemade pita bread. -Victoria

  • Reply
    November 7, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Beautiful. And great recipe. After you’ve had the Le Puy and some of the similar varieties, there’s no going back, is there?!!

    • Reply
      November 7, 2014 at 9:21 am

      Absolutely, I can never buy those mushy grey ones again!

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